Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Christmas Baking!

In case you were interested, here is some of the Christmas baking I did this year to give away as gifts and for my family and our guests to enjoy over the holidays! Click the links to be taken to the corresponding recipe.



Scuffles (no recipe yet)
Nanaimo bars (no recipe yet)

I also made eggnog pumpkin pie and a double batch of apple crisp for my family's Christmas dinner desserts.

In other exciting news, my parents gave me a Kitchenaid stand mixer for Christmas! I also got a griddle, some new cookbooks, and an apple peeling machine, so I'm looking forward to trying out all of these in the new year! 

I hope everyone had a great holiday with their family and friends full of lots of good food!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Eggnog Pumpkin Pie

I made this pumpkin pie for dessert for a Christmas dinner with some of my family last night. I am usually not a huge fan of baked pumpkin pies because of how heavy and dense they can be, but this pie was incredibly light and airy! The addition of eggnog made it so creamy and flavourful and it was a great pairing with the gingersnap crust. It was spicy, sweet, and festive - perfect for a unique holiday dessert. My family and I really loved it!


2 cups ground gingersnap cookies - I just bought some gingersnap cookies and ground them into a fine power in my food processor. If you don't have a processor then just place the cookies in a large plastic bag and crush them with the bottom of a glass or a heavy object.
8 Tbsp. butter, melted, divided use
2 Tbsp. white sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup eggnog
1 15oz. can pure pumpkin (about 1 and 3/4 cups)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt

Fresh whipped cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp. white sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, stir together the cookie crumbs, 6 Tbsp. melted butter, and the white sugar. Press the crumbs evenly into the bottom and up the sides of a 9" pie plate. Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown. Remove and allow to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes while you prepare the filling.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, eggnog, pumpkin, brown sugar, and remaining 2 Tbsp. of melted butter with an electric mixer until well combined, about 2 minutes. Beat in the flour, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt until combined. Pour the pumpkin filling into the prepared pie crust. Bake for 50 minutes, or until the top of the pie is set. Allow the pie to cool completely before topping with the fresh whipped cream.

To make the fresh whipped cream: Chill a large mixing bowl in the freezer so it is nice and cold before you begin. Add the whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla to the bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until the cream is thick and stiff peaks form. Spread the whipped cream over the cooled pie and garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon or freshly ground nutmeg. Store the pie in the refrigerator.

Merry Christmas!

*Recipe from Sugar Plum

No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Balls

These come together so quickly and they are the perfect treat to have stashed in your freezer for when a dessert craving strikes!


2 cups quick oats
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 Tbsp. water
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar


In a large bowl, combine the oats, sugar, and cocoa. Add in the water, vanilla, butter, and peanut butter. Use your hands to mix the ingredients until it comes together in a dough. If it is too crumbly then add 1 Tbsp. more water or peanut butter until it is sticky.

Put the powdered sugar in a shallow dish or bowl, then roll the dough into 1-2 Tbsp.-sized balls and roll them through the powdered sugar until coated. Brush or tap off the excess powdered sugar. You just want a very light dusting and not a thick layer otherwise the sugar taste will overpower everything.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer for longer storage.

*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Crabapple Jelly Cheese Bars

Jelly and cheese in a dessert bar may sound like a strange combination, but the combination of salty, savoury cheese, sweet fruity jelly and crumbly, crunchy pecan shortbread crust works perfectly together. Don't be thrown off by the cheese because it tastes amazing once you put it all together! As a kid I remember having Cheez Whiz and jam or jelly together on toast, and if you've never tried it I highly recommend it! My family has made this recipe around Christmas for as long as I can remember, and we usually use my grandma's homemade crabapple jelly. If you don't happen to have any crabapple jelly then you can definitely substitute it with a strawberry or raspberry jelly or jam instead!


3/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup white sugar
1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup crabapple jelly


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8x8" or 9x9" baking pan with butter or non-stick cooking spray, or line with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth with an electric mixer. Add in the flour, cheese, and pecans and continue to mix until it is crumbly. Press half of the crust mixture into the prepared pan in an even layer. Spread the jelly over the crust and then crumble the remaining crust mixture over the top.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares. Store in an airtight container or freeze for longer storage.

*Recipe from Karen McMillan

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chocolate Crinkles

Chocolate crinkles are are soft, chewy chocolate cookies covered in powdered sugar "snow." They are a classic Christmas cookie! They are very easy and quick to make, and the crinkled finish of the chocolate cracking through the icing sugar makes them visually stunning. One thing to note about this recipe is that the cookie dough requires 3-4 hours of mandatory chilling before you can bake the cookies, so be sure to make it in advance and give yourself enough time.


2 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup cocoa powder
2 and 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar


In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt until combined. Set aside. In a separate bowl, beat together the white sugar and vegetable oil with an electric mixer until it resembles wet sand. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Gradually mix the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, until thoroughly combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap or a lid and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours, or overnight. The chilling step is necessary because the dough is very wet and needs time to firm up.

After the dough has finished chilling, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line sheets sheets with parchment paper, and pour the 1 cup of powdered sugar into a shallow dish or plate. Roll out 1-2 Tbsp.-size balls of cookie dough with a cookie or ice cream scoop, or moistened hands, and then roll them in the powdered sugar until completely coated. Place them on the prepared cookie sheets about 2" apart and do not flatten them.

Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, until they are firm but still a bit cakey looking. Allow them to cool completely on wire racks before moving them. Some powdered sugar may fall off the cookies once you move them so be careful if you don't want to make a big mess. Store in an airtight container, or freeze for longer storage.

*Recipe adapted from Crepes of Wrath

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

These are great Christmas cookies! They are super chewy and chocolatey and would make a great gift for the cookie lover on your list. You can control how much peppermint flavour you'd like in these by using either mint chocolate chips or regular chocolate chips in the cookie dough. 


2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 3.4 oz. pkg. instant chocolate pudding mix
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips or mint chocolate chips
For garnish: Crushed candy canes and/or Andes mint chocolates


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line cookie sheets with parchment paper or spray with non-stick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar with an electric mixer. Beat in the instant pudding mix until well blended. Then beat in the eggs and vanilla extract.

Blend the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture until well combined. Finally, stir in chocolate chips. Cover and refrigerate the dough for 20-30 minutes. This will keep the cookies from spreading too much and becoming flat while they bake in the oven.

While waiting for the cookie dough to chill, unwrap your candy canes and place them in a plastic baggie. Use a small hammer, the bottom of a mug, or any other blunt object to crush the candy canes. You want there to be a good mix of larger and smaller chunks. Try to avoid crushing them too finely otherwise they will just melt into the cookie dough during baking and you won't see the candy cane pieces in the final cookie. If you are using Andes mint chocolates then unwrap those as well and evenly cut them in halves (you can also use a whole chocolate for each cookie if you'd prefer).

Pinch off 1-2 Tbsp. of chilled cookie dough and roll it into a ball, then place on the prepared cookie sheets. Gently flatten the balls with the palm of your hand and sprinkle the crushed candy canes on top, gently pressing them into the dough so they stick. If using Andes chocolates then flatten the balls of dough but don't put them onto the cookies yet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Once out of the oven, leave the cookies on the cookie sheet for a few minutes, and then transfer to wire racks to finish cooling. Store in an airtight container.

*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Flourless Chocolate Fudge Brownies (gluten-free)

I made these brownies for a friend who is celiac so she could enjoy dessert at a party this weekend. They are very rich, fudgey, and dense - so if you are a serious chocolate-lover then you would definitely love these! For a gluten-free dessert they are incredible, and probably one of the best brownies I have had! The brownies would be delicious served with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.


1 cup (8 oz. pkg.) semisweet Baker's chocolate
1 cup butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup superfine sugar - If you don't have superfine sugar then make your own by pulsing granulated sugar in a food processor until the crystals are fine, but not powder
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup almond meal or ground almonds - If you don't have almond meal then grind whole almonds in a food processor until they are a very fine powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cups white chocolate chips, chopped walnuts, or chocolate chips - I used white chocolate


In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally. Watch it carefully as it melts so you don't burn the chocolate. Once it has melted, remove from heat and add the sugar and vanilla extract. Mix to combine and allow it to cool for about 15-20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8x8" or 9x9" baking pan with parchment paper. Using a whisk, slowly beat the eggs into the chocolate mixture. Make sure you whisk constantly as you add the eggs so they don't cook if the chocolate mixture is still warm. 

Add in the almond meal, salt, and white chocolate chips/nuts/chocolate chips. Mix well until combined. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the brownie is set on top and still a little soft to touch in the middle. Allow the brownie to cool completely on a wire rack before removing from the pan and cutting into squares. I like to refrigerate or even freeze the brownies in the pan before cutting to make them easier to cut. Store the brownies in an airtight container in the fridge.

Arrrrr! Pirate Cake

I made this cake for my cousin's pirate-themed birthday party this weekend! Happy 21st Birthday Erin!

The cake was made from a Betty Crocker butter pecan cake mix, which I enhanced by using buttermilk instead of water, and adding vanilla extract and cinnamon. I frosted it with homemade whipped vanilla icing (recipe below) and piped on a pirate flag with black icing, then scattered chocolate loonies around the outside. All the pirates at the party loved it!

Whipped Vanilla Icing

This icing recipe may sound strange because it contains flour and granulated sugar - but trust me, it turns out delicious! The icing is light, fluffy, creamy, and very tasty. It pairs well with any flavour of cake.


5 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar (not icing sugar)


In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk the flour into the milk. Heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. It should be very thick, like brownie batter. Once it reaches this consistency, remove it from the heat, stir in the vanilla, and let it cool to room temperature. It must be completely cool before you use it in the next step. 

While the mixture is cooling, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until it is light and fluffy. There should be no grains of sugar left. Add in the completely cooled milk, flour, vanilla mixture and beat with the mixer on high for about 5-7 minutes. If it looks separated, then continue beating until it comes together. It should resemble whipped cream once it is done. Spread the icing on cake or cupcakes.

*Icing recipe by The Pioneer Woman

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Coconut Curry Peanut Sauce

This thick and creamy sauce is so delicious and versatile! The blend of coconut, curry, and peanut flavours is comforting and savoury, and it lends this sauce well to stir-frys, vegetables, tofu, chicken, pasta, and rice dishes. I used it in a tofu and veggie stir fry, and have also mixed it into fusilli pasta and steamed broccoli, then baked in a 350 degrees F oven for 25 minutes. It would also make a great marinade for tofu, chicken, or seafood.


2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups light coconut milk
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. agave or sugar
2 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4-1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper


In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk all ingredients together until smooth. Remove from heat and use in the dish of your choice. This recipe makes a lot so leftover sauce can be store in an airtight container or fridge.

*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Pumpkin Loaf

I figured I would throw out one last pumpkin recipe before getting into the Christmas baking season. This recipe makes one of the moistest loafs I have ever tried (and it's also vegan)! It's not too sweet and it has a perfectly spiced pumpkin flavour, so it's perfect for breakfast or to enjoy with an afternoon coffee. If you like your baking on the sweeter side then I would recommend adding in the optional white or milk chocolate chips!


1 and 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 Tbsp. lemon juice, divided use
1/3 cup soy or almond milk, or regular milk
1/2 cup agave or pure maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat or all purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp. pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/2 cup white or milk chocolate chips, or chopped pecans (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and spray a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray, or grease with margarine.

In a small bowl, mix the soy or almond milk with 1 Tbsp. of lemon juice and allow it to sit for about 10 minutes, until the milk curdles. In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin puree with the remaining lemon juice, the curdled milk, and agave or maple syrup. Stir to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips or nuts if using. Do not over mix the batter or your loaf will be tough and rubbery.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top with the pepitas, gently pressing them into the batter so they will stick. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the top of the loaf comes out clean with a few crumbs attached. Cool on a wire rack before removing from the pan to cut and serve. 

*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

These bars are just like bites of pumpkin pie! The oats add a nice chewy texture and the peanut butter makes them super moist. They are so quick and easy to make, and if you use wheat-free oats then they are also naturally gluten free and vegan!


1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 Tbsp. white sugar
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line an 8x8" or 9x9" baking pan with aluminum foil, then spray with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix by hand until everything is moistened. Evenly spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-27 minutes, or until the bars are no longer jiggly. They may still be a bit moist when you take them out of oven, but they will set up more as they cool.

Cool the bars on a wire rack for about half an hour and then chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours before cutting the bars. Store in an airtight container in the fridge, or in the freezer for longer storage.

*Recipe adapted from Love Veggies and Yoga

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Movember Cupcakes and DIY Cupcake Toppers

Since I personally can't grow a very good moustache to support the Movember cause, I made these Movember cupcakes instead! If you don't know, Movember is a movement where the goal is to raise awareness about men's prostate health and funds for Prostate Cancer Research by growing a moustache and collecting donations for the month of November.

The Cupcakes

The cupcakes were made from a Devil's Food Cake chocolate box mix that I enhanced by using buttermilk instead of milk or water and adding 1 tsp. each of vanilla extract and cinnamon. I iced them with a 1M star tip using this vanilla buttercream that I dyed with Wilton Royal Blue gel colour paste:

1 cup softened unsalted butter
2 cups icing sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

In a large bowl, cream all ingredients together with an electric mixer until smooth.

DIY Cupcake Toppers

I topped these cupcakes with homemade moustache cupcake toppers! They were super quick, easy, and cheap to make, and you can definitely use this technique to create whatever kind of cupcake toppers you would like. This is a great idea for any kind of themed cupcakes! Personalized toppers are great for holidays, birthdays, baby showers, weddings, bridal showers, etc., and they can make plain cupcakes look really unique.

All you need is the image you would like to use, scissors, toothpicks, and tape.

For my Movember cupcakes I printed off multiple images of a moustache silhouette and cut them out.
 Then I used a thin strip of tape to secure a toothpick onto the back of the moustache. If you want double-sided toppers you can use double sided tape and two copies of the image for each topper. You could also use coloured toothpicks if desired.
So simple! 
 Insert the finished product into your decorated cupcake! I ended up pushing the toothpick all the way into the cupcake so that just the moustache was sitting on top of the icing.

*By Brooke McMillan